Hobby Boss P-40B  in 1/72
  Start: September / 2008
Finish: March / 2012


Round 1: Punch hard, no matter how weak is the adversary

You probably know that Easy Model produces ready made plastic models for collectors. They are pretty good, far superior than those cast metal stuffs. And since they're mass assembled, painted and decaled, the donor kit can't be anything too complex. Easy Model uses the models from Hobby Boss, which are sold as easy unassembled kits. They are good for the price, well molded, but leaves a lot to be desired by serious modelers. Maybe more important, this type of plastic model seems to be attracting the interest of the younger. Today's kids don't like much to face the challenge of tackling a 300+ parts model...

Anyway, I've been running away from these kits for a while (I like 300+ parts kits!). Some weeks ago I was visiting one of our local hobby shops and I saw the P-40B/C. Knowing the AML, the Academy and also the Trumpeter kits, we can't claim there are really good choices for the Tomahawk in 1/72 scale. And after opening the box, I concluded such simple kit wasn't too far behind the other injected options. Good for a weekend project, part of my never ending AMS treatment. Well, by now I should be convinced there's no weekend project in my life...

Before starting, let me quote modeler John Thompson, who compared the kit with MBI drawings:

- Wing machine guns are too far out from the fuselage by about 2 mm. This would be easy to correct, except that there are some related panel lines which also would have to be relocated.
- Rib detail on all control surfaces is much too deep, but could be improved with a few coats of liquid filler, such as Mr. Surfacer.
- Two canopies are provided – one open, one closed. Both have the same odd error – the windscreen is a rounded shape with no framing visible.

I decided to improve the
control surfaces, but leave the guns and the canopy as they are. So, to the workbench I went, armed with a big grinding bit attached to my Dremel. Why? I opted for removing the solid block depicting the cockpit. That's my major complain about this kit. Hobby Boss could make a single piece cockpit to be snaped under the fuselage. What's in the kit is a shame... I dug the CMK resin accessory set for the Academy P-40N out of my shelf. If I could modify those parts (or the copies of it) to show a reasonable resemblance to the P-40B cockpit, that would be the plan.

Then I carved a big cave inside the fuselage to accept the resin cockpit. I also had to enlarge the opening of the single piece wings to fit the cockpit floor. It was a big mess, but better than carving resin:

The panel lines are of the recessed type. They are well done on the rear fuselage and under the wings, but very inconsistent elsewhere (too shallow here, disappears there). The nose was rescribed to make the panel lines deeper, and to add a few missing panel lines. The cowling fasteners were also deepened:

Rescribing was also necessary on the upper wings. The wing root fairing line was rescribed first, using a metal template. The fasteners for the gun bay panels were refined using a beading tool. The kit's representation of the wing gun barrels were removed and the corresponding holes drilled. The ailerons had their hinge lines deepened:

The next step was to correct the rudder, which has its hinge line erroneously defined (a fault present in most P-40 kits that I know). In addition, the only major error in the basic outline is the width of the rudder. I removed the rudder from the fuselage, corrected the hinge lines and scribed the trim tab, absent in the kit. A generous sanding was done over the rib details to reduce it and thin the trailing edges:

The tail control surfaces were removed from their fins and reworked accordingly:

The last kit items modified were the exhaust stacks and the nose. The former had its openings hollowed out. I left the molding line along the stacks to simulate the welding lines. The nose mounted gun openings were also drilled (they are not represented at all in the kit) to accept the barrels later. The carburetor air intake was also ignored in the kit, so I drilled a large opening to simulate it:

Next, the cockpit parts were prepared. As I mentioned above, I used the CMK resin cockpit for the P-40N. Since there are visible differences between the cockpits these aircraft, I had to remove the oxygen regulator and some other small details. I added new trim tab controls, a map case and circuit boxes to both cockpit sidewalls. The P-40B had the common pre-war rounded pilot's seat, instead of the more rectangular one used in later variants. I limited myself to sand the upper edge of the resin seat until it looked like in the photos. The seat supporting arms were scratchbuilt from plastic rods. Strictly speaking, I should change the radio box, too. However, I didn't want to be exact here, just enough to make the area looking like a P-40B.

As for the control panel, I couldn't improvise anything from a P-40N, as they were completely different. I opted for trying a very simple idea: to work from photocopies of the instrument panel. I had a 1/32 scale drawing of a P-40B control panel, and used it to print two new drawings reduced to 1/72 scale. One (drawing A) woud be used as a background for the second one (drawing B) which would be used as a guide to punch the instrument holes out. Drawing A was generously coated with Future and set to dry. It becames very stiff when dry, and the gloss finish simulates the instrument glasses. Drawing B was glued over a plastic sheet of suitable thickness, and then perforated on the instrument locations using a Waldron Punch & Die set.

The perforated panel was then painted flat black and the drawing A was glued on its back. I didn't have the punches for the smaller instruments, so I used instruments from spare decals. To avoid that these decaled instruments become too evident (in comparison the the others), I applied a drop of Tamiya Smoke (X-19) as their glassing agent. I also had to scratchbuilt the backplate of the .50 machine guns atop the instrument panel. The rudder pedals were made from plastic bits and an old generic photoetched set from Eduard. A light drybrushing with gray was applied over the assembly. Buttons and switches were added by painting small dots with red and silver paint. I also used a few placards decals from my spare box. The seat was painted silver, Future coated, and washed with Burnt Sienna oil paint. Considering the low cost of the approach, I'm very proud of the result:

The sidewalls and floor were painted interior green, sealed with Model Master Metalizer sealer (for faster drying) and washed. Once dry, I highlighted the details with a gentle drybrushing. Scuffs on high traffic areas were produced using Model Master Aluminum Metalizer powder. I used black & silver placard decals here and there, too, using the aircraft manual as reference. Not my best job, but much better than what comes in the kit:

The cockpit items were glued to their places inside the fuselage. I left the pilot's seat out for now - will add it later. Since the kit comes with two canopies (one closed and one open), I glued the closed one with Maskol in order to seal the cockpit while I was working on the rest of the model. The fuselage was glued on the wing, and it was a less than perfect joing. Mr. Surfacer took care of the wing root seams, but the area aft the wing under the fuselage needed some serious treatment to get rid with the seams.

While I was sanding the wing/fuselage joint, I broke one of the tail wheel doors. That was the excuse to replace them. Not that they were bad, but there was no detail at all. Furthermore, the P-40 tail wheel doors were rounded on the hinged edges. So I added small circular quarters to the wheel bay opening, and will scratchbuild the new doors later. I also removed the wheel from the kit's yoke, drilled a hole to accept a new brass strut later, and formed a canvas cover (another missing item) with facial tissue dampened with white glue.

Next came the second major problem with this kit: the wing/fuselage joint. In the real aircraft the fairings edges of the wings were quite distinguishable. They are ok on the wing root, but absent on the trailing flap area, so I decided to scribe a new one. Since this is a very difficult contour to rescribe using aftermarket templates, I made one specially for the job. I started applying Tamiya tape along the missing panel lines, and roughly drawing the fairings boundaries using scale drawings and eyeball Mk.I.

The tape was removed, cut along the line, and transferred to a piece of brass sheet. A permanent marker was scored along the cut line to transfer the shape to the brass sheet:

Finally, the brass sheet was cut along the marked line, and trued with files and sandpaper. This template will be fixed to the fuselage sides for easier (and safer) rescribing.

After a few weeks halted, the work was resumed, and I finally put my templates in use. The complicated lines of the aft wing roots fairings were rescribed very easily. As usual, after sanding the new lines and cleaning the residues, I applied a bead of liquid glue to smooth the lines. Once satisfied, a jeweler's beading tool was used to make the characteristic rivets around the border of the fairing.

Since this Tiger will be belly landed, I have to smash its chin, torning the skin under the engine. In order to minimize the work there, I tried to save some work by thinning the plastic with a rotatory tool, and applying copious amounts of liquid glue. After waiting an hour or so, the part will be pressed agains a flat surface to simulate the smashed area.

While the glue was doing its job, I scratchbuilt a new tail wheel, since the original kit part was removed early during the assembly. I'm not a big fan of wheels molded integrally with the yoke. It's unrealistic, and a pain in the ass to paint. I sawed a disk of sprue with approximately the width of the tail wheel. Then I drilled a hole on its center and mounted it on my Dremel. Using files and sandpaper, I got a reasonably accurate wheel, including including the hub disk. The new yoke was made from a piece of 0.75 mm brass wire, bent to shape and sanded wherever necessary.

I glued the chin under the nose, and after that, the only major items except for the clear parts were the rudder and horizontal stabilizers. They were glued in a slighted tilted position to simulate a more natural attitude of a downed airplane. I also had to install the connecting rods of the stabilizers. The rudder will receive its characteristic horn later, as well as the actuating arms of the trim tabs.

After washing the whole model the remove any residuals left, I could remove the temporary canopy to start working on the clear parts. Here's a glimpse of it, since I haven't posted any image of the cockpit after installed:

As for the clear parts, I started by checking the fit of the lateral windows, one of my concerns since the beginning. The fit wasn't great... More on that later. First, I had to remove the small plugs used to fix the windows on corresponding fuselage holes. Since these plugs produced a slight sink mark on the outside, I had to file both sides of the windows, reducing its thickness considerably. A bath in Future will recover its transparency later.

Well, while polishing the lateral windows, I lost one (the starboard) of them. I'm still looking for it... I decided to make a new one, cutting a piece of clear styrene and sanding its borders until a tight fit with the fuselage step was achieved. I used MIBK to glue the part and polished it using fine sandpaper and pieces of cloth. To my amazement, I achieved a pretty decent clear part without dippint it in Future. And honestly, since I had the chance to fill the gaps and sand the window flush with the fuselage, the result was way closer to the real stuff than the kit part. Repeating the operation on the port side was not a good idea, though, since the holes for the fuel tank caps would allow a lot of residues to enter the space under the windows. So I stuck with the kit parts for the port side.

The last smaller details were then taken care of. I added new engine cooling flaps using plastic stock, and posed then in a partially open position. I also opened a couple of small holes from which two engine vents protuded. They will be installed later.

And finally, the trim tabs actuating arms were added. There were made from stretched sprue, while the characteristic rudder horn was made using a punch and die tool. I hope they won't be lost soon...

The only really important items missing now are the landing gear doors, which will be closed, the propeller and the clear parts. Except for the first, they all can be tackled separately from the basic airframe.

The next to be tackled was the propeller/spinner. The propeller blades were sawed to be installed individually later (they will be torn as per photos). Both spinner parts were then glued and the blades opening were refined with files. However, the P-40s had two distinctive panel lines around the spinner. One sandwiching the propeller, and another a few inches ahead of the former, which allowed the mechanics to have access to the pitch mechanism without having to remove the whole assembly.

The second one is barely molded in the kit part (otherwise it would be impossible to remove the part from the mold). I decided to refine that panel line because it was a notorious oil leaker. In order to do so, I inserted a photoetched saw between the pages of a small booklet, about the correct height of the panel line when measured with the spinner sat on a flat surface. Pressing the booklet to keep the saw stable, I turned the spinner to score the new line against the saw:

Worked like a charm, resulting in a very subtle panel line:

And as you can see in the photos, in general it wasn't possible to distinguish any rivets, so I won't wast time with them. As for the landing gear, I don't have to worry with anything, since this tiger will be bellied. Therefore, I elected to switch the Hobby Boss landing gear legs by the Academy's ones. The Hobby Boss items are much more realistic and faithful to the prototype, so I'd better save them to use in another P-40, flown by a better pilot!

Round 2: Know your enemy

I wondered it was about time to choose the version I was going to model. After reading several books on the subject, I found Osprey's Aircraft of the Aces #41, AVG Colours and Markings [1], and Tom Tullis' Tigers of China [2] two mostly valuable books on the subject. At any rate, I was decided to model a bellied aircraft, so I narrowed my search to these two birds:

Both aircraft have their share of interesting details. The two photos below show Tomahawk #74 in two different moments, right after having bellied on Kyadaw airfield, and after being moved to a boneyard, probably awaiting salvage (color photo), along with Tomahawk #81. In the later one RT Smith himself is inspecting another wreck. It is clear from these pics that this hawk didn't have its sharkmouth applied yet. It is also evident the fresh camouflage patch applied to hide the orignal numbering system, visible under the cockpit. The color photo seems to indicate the use of 'US equivalents' color system used on export aircraft for the British. The color photo also shows that this Tomahawk had its armament already removed, and only two of the propeler blades are bent.

Tomahawk #6 shows a not so common rear view mirror, early style shark eye, a sharkmouth with small tongue, and what seems to be a curious shoulder harness (early Tomahawks had only lap belts). Tom Tullis also pointed out a camouflage mismatch at the wing root that I can't see in the photos (very common, though).

Round 3: Hide away

I spent quite a time doing some research about the correct colors for US export aircraft. I'll publish the results shortly, just a matter of formatting the article. Meanwhile, the model was cleaned and masked in preparation for paint:

And acrylic automotive primer was applied over:

Next, the pre-shading was accomplished using flat black automotive lacquer:

And then the camouflage finally began. Following what I was able to find out researching the subject, I elected to use Light Gray to represent the DuPont 71-021. Aerothech automotive lacquer was the brand chosen. I love these lacquers - you airbrush one wing, then the other, and by the time you finished the second one, you can already hold the model by the first wing and paint the rest of the model. However, I'm having my share of problems with these paints and masks...

I spent a lot of time researching the correct colors for the AVG Tigers. If you are interested, you can read the compilation in the article Curtiss Camouflage on A.V.G. Tomahawks. The colors were prepared with Tamiya acrylics, following the recipes described in the article. Here is a sample test of the colors chosen:

And so I loaded my airbrush again and started painting the DuPont 71-009:

Next stop: green camouflage. After photocopying the plans of the aircraft in the same scale of the model, I cut the camouflage patterns using a new scalpel blade. Of course, some spatial geometry work is in order to transform 2D plans in 3D patterns.

I tried to use silly putty rolls to mask, but did not like the residuals left. I then switched to lift masks. I made several small sausages of Tamiya tape and applied it under the masks leaving 2-3 mm offset. The masks were pressed over the model, leaving a lift of about 1 mm. Areas that will not be airbrushed were fixed with tape to further anchor the masks. Having used the same set of drawing to rescribe the model, I had the panel lines printed on my masks to aid positioning.

This method delivers nice camouflage edges, not sharp and neither faded. The idea is not mine, though:

I didn't mask the whole model at once. I worked by areas: one green area each time. Then the masks were removed, new ones applied and another airbrushing step. Of course this is possible because I used acrylic paints (it would take days to do the same with enamels). The key with this technique is to keep yourself focused to hold the airbrush always perpendicular to the mask edge. This is fundamental to avoid overspraying under the mask lift. Contrary to my previous experiences, I had no serious problem with overspraying. It occurred only on time, when I applied a slightly darker color to simulate the old RAF roundels oversprayed on the wings. No big deal, though.

And that's it. The basic camouflage is done:

Round 4: Getting older... or the strange case of Nottub Nimajneb

With the basic camouflage on, it was time to start the slowest part of the project: weathering... My first step was to produce fading on some panels, well, actually on the whole aircraft except for the undersides. I took the brown color used on the top cammo and mixed it with Tamiya Buff (XF-57) and White (XF-2). The mix was heavily thinned (about 95% thinner) and airbrushed on the whole aicraft, but concentrating more on the center of some panels. The color used to fade the basic cammo of course have a more pronounced effect over the green areas, but it is not much visible over the browns.

The fading is an important effect to be reproduced in aircraft intensely subjected to the elements. I intentionally made it heavier on some areas because I knew it would be submitted to yet another coat of paint (more on that later), and I didn't want to run the risk of loosing the fading work.

Now I have a visibly faded camouflage, but both colors became off. In order to correct them, I recurred to a well-known trick used by AFV modelers: filters. In the present case, I did not want to show a dozen shades of greens and browns. My goal was to bring the earth tone more the brown side (towards the yellow) and the green a bit more dark (towards the blue). A good way to do so is to apply an orange filter, and that just what I did. After my conversation with Sandro and Amaral, I was very confident on using this method. I took a bottle of Tamiya X-26 Clear Orange and applied a heavily thinned coat over the top cammo. I used Mr.Color Thinner for that, in order to allow slower drying than my usual lacquer thinner. Again, this was done working by areas and checking my progress as I went.

Note that the fading effect was not lost, an advantage of using filters (or transparent colors, in this case):

And only then I could say I was satisfied with the cammo colors. The orange hue brought the green to its darker side and earth became more brown. The photo below compares the model before and after the application of the filter (same camera settings, same lightning):

Before coating the model with Future, I added a few rectangles using a lighter shade of Neutral Gray to simulate patched areas, particularly on fabric covered areas. I also added the white fuselage band of the First Pursuit squadron:

The model was then ready for the decals. I've been hearing good things about Hobby Boss decals. I guess they refer to the application, not the accuracy of them. In my case, I found the blue of the Chinese insignia is way off (too light). I decided to use an old Super Scale decal sheet, but on these ones the insignias seemed too dark. That's my world. In the end I decided to use the insignias from the Super Scale sheet and the kit decals for the rest.

I was told the Hobby Boss decals perform very well. Mine was no exception. In fact, I had more troubles with the Super Scale insignias, which did not responded to Micro Sol, even after several applications.

The white #6 on the nose is a bit too large, but that was what I had in hand. The fuselage number was removed from the kit's #68. The shark mouth shape didn't match the photos I had, but are better than any of the twelve ones in the Super Scale sheet. The eye position may look odd, but it was placed on the same position and angle seen in the photos (see photos above). I still had to add a smal black dot inside the red eye, though.

The shark mouth in kits decal is incomplete around the chin. I have to touch up the white, complete the black trim, and add some tooth:

I also painted some of the smaller parts and sealed them with Model Master Metalizer sealer in preparation to weathering. I used Aerotech Burnt Iron for the exhaust stacks, and misted the stacks ends with Model Master Rust:

After a small break, I tackled the incomplete shark mouth using a fine pointed brush and black and white acrylics from Vallejo. Basically, the black trim under the chin was completed, and the missing tooth added with white paint.

I also added the small black dot over the shark eye:

The last decals missing were the serial numbers on the fin. I needed a tiny P-8187 in white, but I couldn't use the kits decals, since it surprisingly came with only one serial (it didn't have all the necessary digits, anyway), while those in the Super Scale sheet were too big. I tried to apply digit by digit from an old dry transfer sheet over a clear decal. Although it resulted ok, the size of the serial was too big, again. In the end, I filled a drafting pen with white ink and wrote the serials dozens of times, just to select the best two of them:

The best ones were cut from the sheet and applied as any regular decal. I almost went blind doing it, but the result is passable:

After a long break I tackled this project again. Once the last decals and retouches were sealed and dry, I proceeded to the washes using oil paints. I avoided overdoing the effect on the uppersurfaces since most of the panel lines there were rescribed, and therefore deep enough to produce a visible natural shadow. As usual in my washes for aircraft, I used a natural shadow color on the majority of the areas, and darker tones around the engine, cowling panels, landing gear, guns, etc. in order to enphasize grime and dirt on those areas. The control surfaces received a much darker, almost black color. I also mixed lighter brown/earth tones on some lines of the wings' topsurfaces in this particular project, taking into account the operating conditions of the AVG birds.

On the undersurfaces, however, it was another story. Since the panel lines there were left as they came in the kit - very shallow - it was impossible to make consistent lines using oil paints. No matter what was the drying time or the paint consistency, the paint simply refused to stay in the lines when the excess was wiped off:

I then switched to plan B, and repeated the washing process, this time using enamel paints, and the result was much better. I used the oil paint smudging method to create leaks, stains and grime where I thought it would be more appropriate and declared it done. Afterall, the model will be bellied and not much will be visible on the underside...

Smudging was also applied on the uppersurfaces, as well as oil filtering on some panels which were looking too "new":

Next, I used oil paints and heavily diluted enamels to simulate the fuel stains so characteristic in AVG aircraft. I applied the enamels first to produce a "shadow" defining the staining boundaries, then smudged dark yellow and burnt sienna oil paints to define the fuel streaks. I will probably return to this area later and retouch the job with pigments.

Meanwhile, I finished the base coats of the exhaust stacks and the canvas protection of the tail wheel. The canvas was painted brown, sealed, washed with oils, flat coated, and then drybrushed with cream color oil paint:

Round 5: More weathering...

Once the oil paints are dry, I will proceeded with the "air wash", the now popular very thin black/brown mix airbrushed along selected panels. The mix was sprayed with my finest tipped airbrush, and in some areas I didn't follow any particular panel line, just produced random darker/dirtier spots (like aft the gun ports, ammo panels, etc). I also retouched the fuel streaks:

I did the same on the underside, even knowing it will not be visible, but it is good to keep you sharp with the technique:

The two photos below allow to compare the effectiveness of the technique, showing clearly the differences of the model before and after the air-wash:

Another long break had gone before I could proceed with this model. When I did, I finally applied the flat coat. In general, I don't like dead flat aircraft finish as it doesn't seem quite right, preferring semi-gloss clear coats instead. In the present case, however, the photos of A.V.G. aircraft in action leave little doubt that the correct approach here is a very flat finish, with a more shine spot here or there. A good side effect is that the paint chipping effect that I generally apply using pencils will adhere better to the flat finish. Later, some gloss can be added around engine panels and other places by gently rubbing a piece of cloth on the desired areas.

I added the exhaust stains at this point, right after the flat coat. Heavily thinned Gunze's Mr.Aqueous Color Soot (H343) was airbrushed with a small tipped airbrush. After period photos, A.V.G. aircraft didn't show very heavy stains in general, so I didn't overdo the effect. I can always come back later and perform small corrections useing pastel chalks.

The landing gear had to be adapted in order to fit in the wheel wells. In particular, the wheels had to be flat sanded on the capped side in order to sit flush with the undersurface of the wing. Smaller details like brake lines and oleo cylinders will be added later.

The propeller blades were cut off the kit part. Since I'll be depicting a bellied aircraft, two of the blades were damaged. The torn blades were produced by heating the blades against a lit stick of incense and slowly bending them. In order to mimic the paint chipping effect, the blades were primed with automotive acrylic primer, then airbrushed with Alclad II Aluminum and sealed with Model Master Metalizer Sealer. Next, they were painted with semi-gloss black (and the yellow tips as well) and let to dry. Finally, light sanding using fine sandpaper exposed some of the Aluminum color on leading edges and around the bent areas.

The wheels were glued to the wells, and then the landing gear struts were positioned accordingly. The oleos were simulated with stripes of Bare Metal Foil, and the break lines made from fine cooper wire. I didn't go too AMS here, since it will not be visible, anyway.

Round 6: Paint chipping...

Next came the paint chipping. AVG hawks used to be very abused birds, with lots of chipped paint in some cases, but they were also constantly repainted. The photos of the aircraft I'm depicting show more dust and scratches than paint chipping itself. Another interesting point is that in many instances the paint didn't actually chip. Instead, it is progressively worn away until the Aluminum underneath is exposed. Therefore, factory primed parts showed remnants of the primer as well. Anyway, I adopted the rule of building up the effect to avoid overdoing it. My basic weapons during this step were a home made mechanical pencil adapted for use of 1.3 mm silver lead, and a standard 0.5 mm mechanical pencil loaded with yellow lead. The later was used to produce the primer showing through worn paint. I also used and three Prismacolor pencils: a bright silver, a dark silver and a medium grey.

I used the yellow lead to scratch selected panels. I started by the wing root fairings, and advanced to the engine panels. I also used the yellow lead to make some scratches here and there, trying to give that worn look:

The method worked very well. Next I would proceed with the Aluminum lead, producing paint chips adjacent to the yellow ones. Later, however, I discovered that the wing root fairings were not primed at the factory:

Next time, I promise I will do the research before tackling the model. Anyway, we never know exactly what a ground crew did. And besides, I liked the effect... The silver chipping, however, deserved a better look. As I mentioned before, AVG hawks many times look terribly abused, but this is not always the case. Two documented examples are Tommy Haywood's #49 and R.T. Smith's #77, both very clean and with minor paint chipping. P-8187 seems to be somewhere in between:

Another source of doubt is the anti-slip walkways on the wing roots. These were applied at factory (see photo above), and it seems to be present in P-8187, but the photo below is not conclusive.

It is worth to mention that apparently these walkways were either overpainted in field or removed. An example is show in the famous photo of #77 below:

Unfortunately, Hobby Boss kit did not reproduce this detail. I could include the walkways later, but for the moment I decided to carry on with the paint chipping. Basically, I used my home made chipper (the one with the 1.3 mm silver lead) to produce light "clouds" of silver adjacent to the panel lines more heavily affected. Then I came back and repeated the procedure where I wanted to expose more the underneath metal. Areas with more oxidized chipping were done using the dark silver Prismacolor.

I alternated bright silver, dark silver, grey, and 2B pencil to produce tiny chippings along removable panels, fairings and wing roots. In small scales, pure silver may be too stark (a good example are the engine cowling fasteners), and in such cases I prefer to use grey pencil. And so I did, moving forward to the nose, but also doing some minor chipping on tail surfaces and cockpit walls. The undersurfaces also received the treatment, but mostly using 2B dark silver pencil, as it is more prone to debris during take-offs and landings.

Apart from the wing roots walkways, which would deserve a solution later, the paint chipping is done:

Round 7: Details...

After a break of almost two years, I resumed this model... Things of life. The kit provides two canopies, one closed and the other open. I removed the tab at the lip of the windscreen and sanded the area. Then I polished both  canopy parts with a cotton disk mounted in my Dremel. No Future bath here...

The second canopy (the closed one) was used to make suitable masks for the others:

After removing the masks of the sliding part, I noted that the frames were not as crisp as I would like. So I superimposed stripes of decal to make everything straight. Strangely, I found pics of AVG Tigers with the sliding part of the canopy containing  an extra, central frame on top. This was not the norm, but I still don't know it this was a field modification or a factory item. Meanwhile, I made a new British style Pitot tube and scratchbuilt new tailwheel doors. The canopy will be weathered later:

Next came one of the boring jobs: to replicate the armoured glass and the gunsight reflector under the windscreen. Essentially, I built a rectangular frame which will recieve a piece of acetate later. This is attached to a brace running transversally to the windscreen frame. As for the reflector, I found a pair of suitable photoetched braces to support its glass. I also made the rear view mirror support atop the windscreen.


Another missing detail is the "prestone" stencil glued on the cowling, over the accessory area of the engine. I was just a matter of retrieving the correct size from photos and printing the text with a laser printed on a piece of white decal. It was then trimmed to size and applied:

And finally I made a few tests of my tiger on its future display base:

Round 8: Finishing 

It was about time. After another break I resumed my little Tiger, this time to finish it off finally. The break was due to a cracking of the camouflage colors on the top of both wings. Apparently, the automotive clear lacquer softened the aclylic colors underneath. I almost gave up. I had to sand the top wings and apply the camouflage again, only to have serious problems with the decals. I ended using a Chinese insignia with a much lighter blue than the previously used. I soldiered on, but an eagle eye may find some hints of the save.

Anyway, the armoured glass was assembled and glued inside the windscreen. I almost went blind glueing the little part, and it is not perfect:

The next problem was how to glue the windscreen to the fuselage without leaving any glue smears? I opted for contact cement, and it worked like a charm. Combat rules, though, when installing the windscreen in position: you have one shot. I also discarded the round pilot's seat. After studying several wartime photos, it was clear that most AVG Tigers had a squared type seat. So I scrounged one from my spare box, painted, and glued on the cockpit floor. At this point PE seat belts were also painted and installed. I left one belt hanging on the canopy rail, as per photos.

Several other smaller details were installed during this step. The tail wheel parts were glued in place, and I made two visible engine vents on the belly using hypodermic needles and stretched sprue. Another important part was the small plate installed on the top of the fin to support the antenna wires:

The wingtip lights were made using my usual recipe for this type of job:

Next I assembled the propeller blades to the spinner, and the latter to a shaft made from a toothpick. Look carefully and you will see that I didn't use any flat clear over the propeller logos. Several factory photos published on Life magazine show that they were actually decals, and remained shiny:

The next batch of details included the nose gun muzzles, made with hypodermic needles, and the navigation lights on both sides of the fuselage, below the cockpit (sometimes overpainted). I just filled the circular recess with blue/green clear paint:

The exhaust stack were glued in place, and I made resin copies of the wing gun muzzels from an Aires item to capture the correct style of the perforations (oval type):

And this is how it was then:

While there were very few items left to be installed, I opted for working on its base and install these details after the model was secured on its base. As per photos, I tried to depict a sparse grass area typical of most dusty AVG airfields, but since this bird probably ran off of the main runway, I added some ground vegetation to add some contrast:

The End

The sliding part of the canopy was glued in place, as well as the pilots mirror atop the windscreen. I almost forgot the navigation lights on both sides of the tail fin. The antenna wires were made with TenueFil, a very thin and relatively stretchable line. The last touch was to add some earth tone pigments, very lightly, to the wing roots (I should have added more...). With the Tomahawk finished, I started to scrounge my figures stash to find something suitable. I ended using a Preiser figure crouching, wearing one of those Burmese hats. Kinda ground crew chief checking the damage or trying to figure out how to fix it...

The big mistake was the interior green inside the fuselage windows. I simply cannot recall how that happened... I'' live with that. The figure was glued to the base, and here is the result:


Some closer pics...

And, of course, I played photo-retouching, just for fun:

This article was published in Fine Scale Modeler magazine, and made the cover of September/2014 issue:

Technical file
- Hobby Boss #80209
- Resin copies of CMK interior for Academy's P-40N (#7021)
Basic colors: 
- Primer: Fast drying automotive acrylic primer
- Interior Green:
Orion automotive lacquer
- Flat Black: Orion automotive lacquer
- Flat finish: Testors Dullcote lacquer
- Gloss finish: Future floor wax and Model Master Metalizer Sealer
- DuPont 71-021 Sky Type S equivalent: Aerotech FS 36622 Light Gray.
- DuPont 71-009 Dark Earth equivalent: Tamiya acrylics (see article for the recipe).
- DuPont 71-013 Dark Green equivalent: Tamiya acrylics (see article for the recipe).
- Scratchbuilt items: pilot's control panel, tail wheel unit, engine cooling flaps and other smaller items.

Rato Marczak 2012  (revised March/2023)